Bambi, abandoned by his father before birth, experiences the hunting and subsequent shooting of his mummy.

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On Disney's TV channel, the popular Hannah Montana - played by the precocious Miley Cyrus - learns the teenage ropes from her single parent father because her mother is AWOL.

On the big screen, The Game Plan chronicles a ten-year-old girl searching for her long-lost father after the untimely - although not entirely unpredictable - demise of her single parent mother.

So it was, this rain-soaked day, we laughed and cried our way through a hat trick of Disney favourites: the heart-rendingly beautiful Bambi, the gloriously regal Lion King and the eternally charming Finding Nemo.

But later, I realised something else that binds Disney films, other than good old nostalgic charm: an absence of parents.

And the Grammy- nominated Enchanted captures Giselle, an archetypal Disney princess, adapting to the harsh environment of New York as a motherless young girl.

By this point in my research, I was becoming increasingly disturbed by the absence of parental role models in the world of Walt Disney. Some Disney characters aren't even fortunate enough to have one parent and are orphaned before the opening credits are over.

Certainly, it would explain the types of folk stories and fairytales that Disney has acquired for adaptation, even when there are numerous other traditional tales that feature a mother and father.

The company animated Cinderella (no mother), Snow White (no mother or father, but a wicked stepmum) and The Jungle Book (orphaned Mowgli, raised by a bear and a tiger).

But perhaps most audacious in this regard was the purchase of J. Barrie's epic Peter Pan, where the boy-child not only had responsibility for a whole island of orphans (The Lost Boys) but Wendy's parents socialised constantly and left their children in the care of the family dog.